|John Kelly |
Why the Red Wings Will Win
For the first time since the Oilers met the Islanders in 1983-84, we have a rematch in the Stanley Cup Final. In case you have forgotten, the veteran Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups until that rematch in '84, where this time, the young and talented Oilers were too much for them.
The situation is fairly similar this year considering we have a very young and talented Pittsburgh team led by superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin against a Detroit club that has won four Cups since 1997. However, the difference between the 2009 Red Wings and that Islanders' dynasty is that this Red Wings team has rebuilt on the fly and is still in its prime. With players like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings aren't an old team. And with youngsters like forwards Darren Helm and Ville Leino and defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathon Ericsson, the Wings have plenty of young, hungry talent.
For those reasons, I think the Wings will prevail in seven games, but it won't be easy. I think the unknown factors in the series are the key injuries the Wings have suffered in these playoffs. If defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and the aforementioned Datsyuk either can't play or are limited in their effectiveness because of injury, the advantage will shift to the Penguins. And like any playoff series, goaltending is always critical. Based on the regular season you'd be inclined to give the Penguins the edge in goal with Marc-Andre Fleury over Chris Osgood, who had a very inconsistent regular season. But in the playoffs, the three-time Cup-winner Osgood has picked up his game and hasn't hurt the Wings at all.
As much as is pains me to say, I think the Wings are the better team and will most likely win their 12th Cup in their 83-year history. However, if injuries and/or average goaltending affect the Wings this young Pittsburgh team will win it all for the first time since 1992.
Either way this should a great series and hockey fans will be the true winners.
| ||Chris Kerber |
Why the Penguins Could Win
Predictions are useless in my opinion because once you make them, there is no accountability if you’re wrong. I’d rather break down reasons why one team can win a series and let you guess who will win.
The stars are better aligned for the Penguins this season. However, astrology aside, the Penguins still have to beat the Detroit Red Wings. The old adage is, “To be the man you have to beat the man,” and make no mistake, the Red Wings are “The Man” in the NHL. They are the defending champions and Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Draper, McCarty, and Maltby are striving for their fifth championship. Common sense should tell us they are the favorite until they are defeated. They have built, rebuilt, aged, added, subtracted, and changed coaches. The result? They still win.
But back to what's important: Pittsburgh can win this series.
The Penguins have a better understanding of what it will take, much like Gretzky and Messier did in facing the Islanders in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals, losing the first and winning the second.
Malkin is a huge key. His Conference Finals were fantastic and he makes it impossible for Detroit to focus just on Crosby. The Penguins are more balanced with three solid lines for these finals.
The Blackhawks forced three OT games against Detroit with physical play that left key Red Wings injured by the end of the series. The Penguins can do the same. Orpik and Gill have the ability to punish Detroit forwards and they will need to do so. They will be more successful than Chicago if they can be physical and disciplined and stay out of the penalty box.
Pittsburgh has to come out of the gate hard and physical. The NBC-dictated schedule will force a beat up Detroit team to play three games in four nights, and four in seven if you count Game 5 of the Conference Finals. Pittsburgh’s youth can be an advantage here.
The Penguins are a healthier team. The hard early schedule and better health is an advantage for the Penguins.